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Home > General > Horse Terminology, Lingo, Terms & More!

Horse Terminology, Lingo, Terms & More!

three horses

During your first time in a boarding stable, you might feel like you’ve suddenly been transported to a different country. There are so many words flying around that you’ve never heard before! No one likes to feel like they’re the only person not “in the know.” That’s why we put together this basic guide to horse terminology. Read through it, and you won’t feel so out of place next time you head to the stables and hear someone start talking about how many hands their yearling is.


Terms Referring to Horses

The following terms all refer to horses of different sexes, sizes, or life stages, in order to make it easy to distinguish between different types of horses.


equine pony

Ponies are a type of miniature horse that are no taller than 14.2 hands when fully grown.


pregnant grulla gray mare
Image By: HTurner, Shutterstock

A mare is an adult female horse that’s 3 years or older.


palomino stallion horse
Image By: Lisa Kolbenschlag, Shutterstock

Any adult male horse that is 3 years or older and not castrated is called a stallion.


gray gelding horse

A gelding is any male that’s 3 years or older that has been castrated.


equine foal lying in the grass

Foals are newborn horses that haven’t been weaned.


colt horse

This is any male horse under 3 years of age.


filly horse running

This is any female horse under 3 years of age.


Horse jumping
Horse jumping (Image Credit: Dagur Brynjólfsson, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 2.0 Generic)

This is any colt or filly that’s between 6 and 12 months of age.


brown mold yearling horse

This is any horse between 1 and 2 years old.


Terms About Horses

In this section, all the terms describe something about a horse, such as their height or a component of their health.

two horses in the field


Horses’ heights are measured in hands. A hand is equal to 4 inches.


A horse’s points are their mane, lower legs, ear tips, and tail. This term is used when describing the horse’s color.


A horse is lame when they have an injury that affects their health or performance.


Sound horses are healthy animals that are free from injuries that affect their health or performance.


Gait refers to the four different speeds that a horse can travel: walk, trot, canter, and gallop.


This is a term about the condition of a horse’s body. Horses with good conformation are hardier and have a higher chance of remaining healthy and sound.


Horse-Related Terms

Not all horse terms specifically discuss horses or their physical traits. The following terms refer to things that are related to horses in some way.


horse with western saddle

Any equipment used with a horse, such as a bridle or saddle, is called tack.


foal and mare

Gradually separating a foal from their mother is a process known as weaning.

Lunge Line


The lunge line is a long rein that’s usually about 20–40 feet in length and meant for lunging a horse.


horse lunging

Done on a lunge line, lunging is a manner of exercising a horse, entailing the horse circling the trainer who’s holding the other end of the lunge line.



Now that you know more equine terms, you’ll feel more confident going to your next rodeo or horse class. Don’t worry if you don’t have everything memorized after your first readthrough, though. Like learning any new language, practicing the vocabulary and being submerged in the culture are what will help the most!

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Featured Image: Pixabay

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